By ANTHONY STONE
HEIGHTS — A local group of Dearborn Heights residents is searching for answers after several months of confusion regarding a vacant lot where Christus Victor Lutheran Church once stood.
Members of Dearborn Heights Citizens United said the land is being used against their wishes and the law. The group has been fighting since 2020 to prevent a having a car wash from being built on it.
The site is on the south side of Ford Road, between Evangeline and Kinmore streets. It’s two blocks east of Beech Daly Road and one block west of Gulley Road. The land sits in a residential neighborhood.
The original plan was to put a condominium complex and a car wash on the land. The condo complex plan was withdrawn by the developer, Dr. Hussein Darwich. Instead of the complex, part of that land would be used for residential homes. For the other part of the land, the hope was to get a special use permit to build a car wash.
In 2020, the developer presented plans to the Dearborn Heights Planning Commission to build the car wash, but was denied based on not meeting the criteria required for a special use permit. Also, the commission did not see a need for the car wash within the city.
The developers sued the city but lost. There was an appeal that followed but it was denied.
Since 2020, plots of land and homes have been purchased, and done so under the condition that no car wash would be built. The city told the buyers that the proposal has been denied and would not have to worry about the car wash being built.
Fast forward to 2022, there is a different mayor — Bill Bazzi — and all new members of the Planning Commission, except for one. The member who voted yes on the car wash in 2020 is the only remaining member on today’s commission. DHCU members believe Bazzi and his administration “stacked” the Planning Commission with members who would approve the proposal.
The new commission approved the car wash to be built, but there is pending litigation on the issue. Further, digging has begun and concrete has been laid on the commercial portion of the land.
One resident said he went to the city and asked why it is issuing permits while litigation is still pending. He said he was told that because the court did not issue a cease and desist, the city had to issue the permits.
Residents — including the DHCU — are against the car wash for several reasons. Dearborn Heights is a major flood zone, and water from the wash would only further the problem. Increased congestion to residential streets introduces a safety issue to children in the area.
Other members mentioned the disturbing noise of vacuums from the car wash. Also, it would affect property values in the area, and seniors view their home as part of an investment in their retirement.
Residents also voiced their concern with other businesses that have been denied based on sheer volume in the city. They said, as an example, the city will no longer allow any more hookah lounges or car lots, and that there are already more car washes than hookah lounges.
The residents are concerned that there was no public hearing about an issue with so much controversy. They were able to round up 1,000 signatures for a petition against the car wash, and hired an outside city planner to show that the car wash infringed on residential property.
The planner also showed the Planning Commission that the car wash still did not fit the required criteria. These efforts were unsuccessful.
A Wayne County Circuit Court judge is scheduled to decide Friday whether a cease and desist order was necessary. There is a formal case scheduled for Nov. 3.